Moving to Baltimore prior to high school starting made it a challenge to both watch and attend Louisville basketball games. For as long as I could remember, I was able to watch every single game on TV and would find my way to Freedom Hall for several games a year.
Thankfully, the awesomeness of modern technology has made it relatively easy to view just about every game and being a member of the Big East Conference allows me to get to a road game every now and then.
Being that tonight is the Villanova game, I thought I would look back on one of the crazier, more nerve wracking games I have ever attended.
On the morning of January 10th, 2009, my dad and saddled up and made the quick drive from Baltimore to Philadelphia. After getting the inevitable delicious cheese steak for lunch, we headed over to the Wells Fargo Center, only to be greeted my some of Phili’s finest fans.
It really doesn’t matter what sport it is, but I have never met a fun fan to be around that roots for any Philadelphia team. They are excessively rude, loud and in your face, but that’s the east coast for you.
Back to the point.
Once inside the arena, we found our seats with the few other Louisville fans that had made the trip. We were only two or three rows from the rafters and shoved in the corner. No big deal.
The game itself was simply a slop fest. Both teams shot horribly from the field and fouled often. Louisville shot only 12% from behind the arc and 38.7% from the field while Nova shot 25% from behind the arc and 37.7% from the field.
Louisville was in control most of the game, twice building their lead to 11, but you could sense momentum turning in the last 10 minutes of the game as Villanova slowly crawled back into it. The Wildcats used a 13-3 run to take their first lead of the game with 3:11 left to play.
The last few minutes were no different than the first 37. It as sloppy and it at times seemed like know one wanted to win the game. The last minute however provided enough drama to counter how bad a game it had been for both teams.
Antonio Pena knocked down one of two free throw’s to break a tie at 59 with 27 seconds remaining. On Louisville’s next trip down the floor, Terrence Williams knocked down an acrobatic running floater to retake the lead with around 7 seconds left.
Villanova easily broke the press and Swop fouled Pena, sending him back to the free throw line (I have no idea why Swop was even n the game at that point).
Pena (thankfully) missed both free throws and Earl Clark grabbed the…oh wait he dropped the rebound out of bounds….
The final 4 seconds of this game were as on edge as I have been at a Louisville game as the game comes down to the wire. Not only did we dodge Pena missing 2 big free throws, but they had at least three chances to score from point blank range but just couldn’t get them to fall.
Sean McDonough said it best in his call of the game. As the final buzzer sounds he screamed, "Louisville survives". This was the ultimate survival game. In a sloppy game that produced 41 total fouls, saw the home team overcome a sizeable lead in the final 10 minutes, and gave them as many chances to win as you possibly can inside 7 seconds, it’s really amazing that the Cards were able to pull that game out.
Regardless of how it happened, the two hour drive back to Baltimore were far more fun knowing we got the W. Let’s hope that tonight brings a similar result, only with far more potent offense for the home team.
Go Cards. Beat Nova.
Jan. 10 - Louisville v. Villanova - Last 6 Minutes (via Blarghman1)